We just got back from a quick trip to Vancouver so I thought I’d share a few of my top travel tips! Some of them are specific to flying, but there are a few tips for all types of travel! Hope you enjoy 🙂
1. Backpacks are Everything
Ditch the purse, diaper bag, shoulder bag, whatever it is that always falls off your shoulder, accept the fact you are a tourist, and strap on that backpack! Seriously! You won’t regret it! Make sure your backpack isn’t too big because you will stuff it to the max! Also, if you have capable children, make sure they bring (and carry) their own backpack!
What I love about backpacks is you can have your hands free, you can pack water/snacks and have room for putting some of your shopping in, if you’re not going on a shopping spree that is! When travelling around you then have your hands free to carry your children, hold their hands or haul other luggage!
I love backpacks so much I even use mine for small adventures around town. Yeah I know, I’m 30 something and still wearing a backpack. Whatevs! It works! I now call it my “mom pack“.
2. Kids Can Help Too
Similar to #1, kids can carry their own luggage, whether it’s a suitcase or backpack, they can carry it and honestly, they’ll love it. Independence is every preschooler’s dream. My daughter loves to pack and carry her backpack. I always check to make sure it’s packed okay, but she picks what toys to bring! After all, she has to carry it! I love everything about the Skip Hop backpacks too, they are a perfect size so they can’t pack it too full and they just fit really well. It’s also her everyday bag for preschool.
We don’t always bring her own suitcase, depending on whether we have room or not, but when we do, she can pull her own suitcase and she absolutely loves it! If she’s tired, we can also pull her while she sits on it.
We have the owl one and it’s the perfect size. You can also get matching lunch kits, water bottles and utensils. Also perfect for preschool or kindergarten! The “Trunkie” suitcase by Melissa & Doug is shown on the far right (or bottom). The one we have is pink, but it’s the same style and I highly recommend it! It’s also a great first birthday/Christmas gift when they really don’t need a lot!
3. A Couple Must Haves
There aren’t a lot of extra things I recommend packing. We really do try and pack light, but for my daughter, I ALWAYS bring children’s Tylenol, a thermometer, an extra set of clothes in our carry on bag and her Sew Bright Beanie, Scarf, (Bibs for children 2 or under) and mitts. If it’s summer then we skip the scarf and mitts of course, but these accessories are so compact, they take up minimal space, and can be a life saver! There’s nothing worse than being cold, whether it’s in the winter, or a cool summer night that you aren’t prepared for. Keep your beanie and scarf in your pack and you’ll always be warm! I sure loved my Merino Beanie!! (The link is for the SAND colour, mine is PEBBLE, but it’s sold out!).
As for a second outfit, this time I just packed PJs and panties because if anything were to happen, an accident, spilt food or water then at least you have a clean set of clothes on hand. Plus, I was a little worried that our plane might not make the snowstorm so I made sure to have a set of clean clothes for her and something comfy in case we landed somewhere other than our destination! And I should clarify, by an extra outfit, if it isn’t PJs then make sure it’s something comfy!
My daughter even used her Beanie as a bucket at the beach!! Whatever goes!
4. Take the Car Seat ON the Plane
Okay, so before I get into this, I get all the reasons why you might NOT want to do this. If you have several kids and are traveling alone with your children I can see this would be a huge pain. BUT, if it is possible for you, I do highly recommend taking the car seat on the airplane. My daughter travels so much better with it, she’s more comfortable, can see out the window, stays in her own seat, isn’t wiggling all around and not to mention, it is a lot safer. If you’d like more info on what to know about taking a car seat on an airplane, click HERE for a previous post with everything you need to know!
5. Bring Extra Straps
I packed a bungee cord in an outside pocket on my checked bag and I used it to secure the car seat to my suitcase. This was a game changer for me. I flipped the car seat upside down, the bottom seat part rested on the side edge (where the handle is) of my suitcase and the longer back part of the car seat rested on the top part of my suitcase. I fastened the bungee cord around the whole thing and voila, I was good to go! Then I had my backpack and one hand free to hold my daughter’s hand.
I wish I had a photo to show you! #bloggerfail… If you were following my Instagram stories you would have seen it though!
6. Always Pack a Re-Useable Water Bottle
We always pack our own water bottles. It will save you lots of money from buying bottled water and drinks and you’ll always have water on hand! If you are traveling by plane, make sure to EMPTY your water bottle before going through security, but still bring it! When you’re on the plane you can get them to fill it up. This way you’ll also get more than the small airplane cup and have water when you get off the plane!
Make sure you have good water bottles that don’t leak…
7. Bring Laundry Soap
I was going to start by staying, if you are traveling with kids, this is a must, but I was the one who spilt hot chocolate ALL OVER my jacket on the first day. It even got inside my jacket sleeves, then I had to wear it for our rainy walk home. Gross…
Many hotels have laundry facilities and you usually pay a pretty penny for just one box of detergent. If you’re thinking ahead, pack a small ziplock bag of detergent (double bag) or a small plastic container of liquid detergent and leave it in your travel suitcase, you won’t regret it and you never know when it will come in handy!
Lucky for us, my husband had laundry supplies on hand so we were able to do up a quick load. If there is time, I also like to do one load of laundry the day before we leave to head back home so that the pile doesn’t seem so daunting when we do get home.
8. Start a Travel Journal
I was inspired to start a travel journal with my 4 year old daughter after I bought her a really cool nature journal. We have too much snow to be using this nature journal, so I thought we’d make our own travel one! I got a small notebook (filled with lined paper) from the Dollar Store, packed a few markers and we were good to go! Each day, sometimes even several times a day, we wrote in it together. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the day, talk about our favourite parts and things we loved seeing and doing. I also gave her the opportunity to colour pictures for each entry, but sometimes she preferred to leave it blank for a photo. We left lots of room for photos and transit and event tickets that we collected along the way.
TIP: I’ll admit, I was a bit concerned about starting this journal because I didn’t want it to be another one of those unfinished projects added to my list, but the best advice I can give for that is do it as you go! And that’s really the point of it anyways! As soon as I got home I ordered the photos before I had a chance to add it to my never ending to do list.
9. Set Aside Specific Spending Money for Kids
However you do it, if your kids have their own piggy bank, bank account or money saved away, or maybe you give them some money or a family member gives them money, before you leave on your trip talk about spending money. My daughter had her own money in her own little change purse that was hers to use. She knew from the beginning that she’d be allowed to pick out a few things, provided she had the money for it. When the money is gone, it’s gone and there is no more asking!
For this trip, she bought a box of grow your own crystals at Science World, a water bottle from the Capilano Suspension Bridge and ice cream for all three of us!
10. Embrace all Aspects of Travel
There may be parts of your travel that you are least excited for, but how do your children feel about it? Do they despise it because you do, or are they excited about it because you’ve made it exciting? Children are sponges and pick up on EVERYTHING. So how do you talk about that bus ride you have to take? Is it dreaded? Are you looking forward to it? But what about your kids? Buses to them can be fun! One of my daughter’s favourite parts of our whole trip was taking the sea bus! From the airport we took the sky train, sea bus and then bus to our hotel and my kid absolutely loved it all! We talked about it for days before and it actually was really fun!
While on the sky train, minutes after leaving the airport, my daughter turns to me, gives me a big hug and says “Thank you so much Mommy for taking me to Vancouver.” We hadn’t even gotten into Vancouver yet or left the sky train or airport! That alone, made my trip.
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